I’m Dr Sarah Hutton, an astrophysicist who is always willing to explain how awesomely amazing the Universe is to anybody who is willing to listen! I’m currently based in the Physics and Astronomy Department at UCL in London where I am the Outreach Coordinator and Ogden Science Officer. I also spend part of my time at the University College London Observatory (UCLO) where I run the schools visits and learn to play with the telescopes that call ULO home.
I did my PhD in the Extragalactic Astronomy group at Durham University under the supervision of Professor Martin Ward. My research looked at active galactic nuclei (AGN) – galaxies that are emitting far more energy from their centres than can be accounted for by their stars. In particular I focused on modelling the energy emission from AGN to see if they displayed similar characteristics to small stellar-mass black holes that we find all round us in the Milky Way.
I grew up in North West England. In 2004 I moved to Durham to study Physics with Astronomy at Durham University. In 2008 I graduated with a 2:1 MPhys (hons) degree. I started my PhD in the same year, still at Durham and was awarded my doctorate in 2012.
I am also a fully qualified Physics Teacher having completed the INSPIRE PGCE with Imperial College London and Canterbury Christ Church University in 2013. I spent 2 years teaching Physics at an all-girls school in Hertfordshire and developed many new ways to make Physics relevant and enjoyable to girls of all abilities and ages.
Over the last seven years I have been involved in a variety of outreach projects. When I was a postgraduate student at Durham University I co-founded the STFC and Ogden Trust funded “It’s not rocket science’ project. Through this project we gave inspirational talks, workshops and careers events to schools in the North East with the aim of increasing the number of students, particularly girls, taking Physics to A-level and beyond.
We also utilised the mobile planetarium at Durham University to give planetarium shows to primary schools and KS3 classes to inspire the future generation of astronomers.
I have worked stalls at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition 3 times, helping to showcase the Cosmic Origins and Cosmic Origins 2 movies from the Institute of Computational Cosmology at Durham University.